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Steelers RBs Room Could Look a Lot Different in 2025



Steelers Warren Najee Harris

With the Pittsburgh Steelers declining Najee Harris’ fifth-year option, the running back room could potentially look a lot different in 2025.

Harris is set to hit the open market in 2025, while Jaylen Warren is a restricted free agent. Cordarrelle Patterson is under contract for the next two seasons. The Steelers will have the right of first refusal with Warren, which means they will have to pay him significantly more in 2025. As of now, it seems more probable that Warren would be back. An extension could occur for Harris, too, but it’s a lot murkier, as he could price himself out of Pittsburgh if he puts up gaudy numbers in 2024.

According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, with the new offense being installed, the feeling is the organization wants to see how Harris and the running backs function in Arthur Smith’s offense before making a longer term commitment to him.

Harris became the first player in Pittsburgh Steelers history to run for 1,000 or more yards in each of the first three seasons of his career. In 2023, Harris had the best season of his career in terms of yards per carry as he rushed 255 times for 1,035 yards — a 4.1 yards per carry average — and he scored eight touchdowns. Harris had rushed for 3.9 and 3.8 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons.

Harris is the only player in the NFL with at least 250 carries in each of the last 3 seasons. He’s 1 of just 3 players with multiple since his rookie year in 2021, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Harris’s option cost was $6.790 million for that fifth year. That would have paid him well for the position and where it is at, and as a bastion of availability, he has been dependable. But Pittsburgh is not rewarding him with that fifth-year option money. Harris might take that as a slight. Depending on how he meshes in Smith’s offense, both parties could decide to part ways after the season.

And with the reset of the running back market in 2024, guys like Saquon Barkley did well for themselves. And joining the Kelce Brothers on the New Heights Podcast, Barkley lumped in Harris with guys who he hopes get more money than he did.

“That’s your goal, you want to get to a second contract,” Barkley said. “I feel like where I got, it’s like now, Bijan, Jahmyr, Najee, you boys, go beat me. I’m a competitor, I’m trying to go out this year, especially with the situation I’m in now, I’m trying to be the best running back. No questions about it. But let’s push each other. Let’s all drive it.”

Harris, the team’s first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has produced well in his first three years with the team despite suboptimal conditions given his offensive line play in front of him

Asked about Najee Harris’ future during his season-ending press conference, Mike Tomlin gushed about the performance of his big back.

“Man, he’s been what we needed him to be,” Tomlin said. “I read a stat, I think you know, he’s 1,000-yard rusher three straight years and how scarce that is. And I just think that speaks to his consistency, availability. He’s been really solid.”

Second-year back Jaylen Warren ran for 5.3 yards per carry, one of the best figures in the league in 2023. He ran 149 times for 784 yards and four touchdowns. He was also more involved in the passing game, catching 61 passes for 370 yards compared to 29 receptions for 170 yards for Harris.